But first, there is a reminder that it is invincible in the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Omaha’s Taylor Ward scored with a Brandon Scanlin point deflection during additional power play to lift the Mavericks to a 3-2 win over UND in the final of the regular season.
1st place Fighting Hawks have won 26 of their previous 27 home games and have won all six home games this season by at least three goals.
“For me, there is no pattern here now,” said UND coach Brad Berry of the home defeat. “We’ve done a great job over the last two years. If it’s two or three times in a row, I’m afraid there’s a pattern. Should we improve? Of course. Do we have to be sharper? Yes. And it has an obligation on the players and the staff. including, including the coach, to do that. It’s not a panic situation. It’s just making sure we know in our minds that you have to take him, and play the best or the best you can, to win the game collectively as a team. “
On Senior Night for the Fighting Hawks, Omaha jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second half – UND’s first deficit since January – and UND was unable to reclaim the lead.
Senior Jackson Keane and Jordan Kawaguchi scored for Fighting Hawks (18-5-1) to equalize, but the Mavericks won in extra time. This marks UND’s first overtime loss since 8 December 2018 against Denver. Since then, UND has played in 15 extra-time matches, winning nine and drawing six.
“I thought it was a little bit of a wake-up call,” said Keane. “We have been up against these guys a lot lately and I think we think it will be easy. They are a great team. I think we got a little warning. I like the way we are fighting back, but we have to be ready from the start. “
In a key sequence in three-on-three stoppage time, UND has a Grade-A goal-scoring chance at one end with senior defender Matt Kiersted wide open in the slot. The shot was stopped by Omaha goalkeeper Isaiah Saville and the Mavericks finally took another path.
Omaha striker Tyler Weiss, just off the bench, stepped on Kiersted and Kiersted cut him, drawing a small penalty for two minutes. The Mavericks converted to a four-on-three strength game when Ward, the son of former UND star Dixon Ward, fired a shot past UND keeper Peter Thome.
The Mavericks (13-9-1) stormed the ice to celebrate at the building they will return to in a few days.
“Obviously, it would be nice to finish the regular season with a win,” said Kawaguchi. “But in the end, we are still number 1 at our conference. We will still move and prepare for the playoffs next week.”
Kevin Conley and Chayse Primeau scored in the center frame to put the Mavericks ahead. It was UND’s first deficit since January 30, when they lost to Omaha 5-4 at the Baxter Arena. The Fighting Hawks didn’t fall behind in February.
The first of these games has been told this season.
UND was 17-0 when scoring the game’s opener and 1-5-1 when not scoring.
“I didn’t think we had the best early game,” Berry said. “I think 30 minutes into the game, we started to press a little bit. We got a little bit of momentum. We got a few chances. But the two-goal lead is hard to get back. We were better in the second half, but we have to start the way we did in the half. both games. “
UND started protests at the end of the second period on Friday.
Keane, who last year at Senior Night asked Berry to sit him down so all the seniors could play, scored a goal on his own Senior Night, burying the rebound from Louis Jamernik’s shot at 14:01.
Then, Fighting Hawks tied him up in the first shift of the third period when Jasper Weatherby moved the puck from behind the net to the fold. He didn’t score, but Collin Adams followed up with an effort deflected high into the air behind Saville. Kawaguchi knocked him in the air for his seventh goal of the season.
All eight NCHC teams will come to the Ralph Engelstad Arena next weekend for a single elimination conference tournament.
UND will face eighth seed Miami on Friday. The game time has not been announced. The semifinals are scheduled for Monday and championship matches on Tuesday.
UND has won the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular season champions four times in the league’s eight years of existence. But Fighting Hawks never won a conference postseason tournament.
“We have to make sure we are called up here next week to do our best in the playoffs here and then the NCAA a few weeks from now,” said Berry. “So we’re going to have a good week of practice, be sharp and turn the page and move on to the next thing we need to do, the next box we need to check.”
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